By Elaine Owen, Editor
Five people have been indicted on a variety of charges in the Dec. 4, 2018, murder of Justin McKinney and shooting of Anna Franklin, both of Morganton.
Those indicted include Stephan Blake Dickey aka Blake Dye, Hunter Nicholas Hill and Dalton Levi Manuel, all juveniles, along with Kevin Jack Chamaty and Michael Chase Havard, both 20 years old.
A fourth juvenile – Lakota Ricky Cloer – was also arrested in the case. He pleaded guilty in January to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Cloer will serve 15 years in prison as part of his plea agreement, and he will also act as state’s witness against his fellow defendants.
As outlined in the General Bill of Indictment filed in Fannin County Thursday, Feb. 21, the tragedy that unfolded that dark night in December appears to have been a case of planned murder for drugs.
The evening before McKinney’s death, all six individuals involved in the case were gathered at Cloer’s residence and were present for a conversation in which Dickey, Hill, Manuel and Cloer agreed to rob and kill McKinney for marijuana and pills, according to court documents.
Court documents also
show that all four juveniles
then traveled in Cloer’s truck to McKinney’s residence, and Dickey, Hill and Manuel got out, after which Cloer drove a short distance away to be ready to act as a getaway driver once the deed was done.
It was Dec. 4 when Dickey, Hill and Manuel allegedly entered McKinney’s home, according to court documents.
Once inside, Dickey reportedly killed McKinney by shooting him in the back of the head with a .410 shotgun, while Manuel allegedly shot McKinney’s girlfriend, Anna Franklin, in the arm and neck with a .25 caliber handgun. Franklin survived the shooting, according to court documents.
In a bizarre turn of events, court documents show although Defendants committed the illegal acts with the intent to take marijuana and pills, Defendants forgot to take the marijuana and pills when they left the residence.
While Cloer remained nearby in his truck to take his accomplices away from the scene, his truck ran out of gas, according to court documents. He called Havard and Chamaty for assistance, and they allegedly brought fuel for the truck “knowing that fuel would be used to accomplish the cover-up phase of the conspiracy by transporting Defendants Dickey, Hill and Manuel away from the crime scene.”
The individuals all made it out of the area that morning, allegedly meeting back up at Cloer’s house. There, Cloer attempted to remove the serial number from the gun used to shoot Franklin, and later that day, he, Chamaty and Havard allegedly traveled to Lake Nottely to toss the .25 caliber handgun into the lake “with the intent of concealing and disguising” the weapon from law enforcement.
The 18-count indictment charges Dickey, Hill, Manuel, Chamaty and Havard with malice murder, felony murder, two counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony, five counts aggravated assault, aggravated battery, two counts home invasion in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Dickey, Hill and Manuel each face charges of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, while Chamaty and Havard have been charged with tampering with evidence.
Havard is from Blairsville, Chamaty is from Epworth, and the others are from Morganton.